NextLevel Online: History of the Restoration Movement

Session 1: Philosophy and Background

The Principles of the Restoration Movement are based on Jesus’ prayer in John 17, truth, unity, and evangelism. We also examine other background influences in this first session.


Classroom Instructions

Materials: Lesson Outline
  • The Principles of the Restoration Movement are based on Jesus’ prayer in John 17.

    • This was a prayer offered shortly before Jesus’ death.

    • Final words are very important – Jesus concerns in this prayer are very important.

    • This was a prayer for ALL Christians – John 17:20.

  • Central Ideas of Jesus’ Prayer – John 17:12-21:

    • TRUTH (i.e., Restoration) – John 17:17 – “Sanctify them in the truth; Thy word is truth”.

      • Truth = God’s Word.

      • A goal of the Restoration Movement is to get back to the New Testament way of doing things.

      • Alexander Campbell published a series of essays entitled “The Restoration of the Ancient Order of Things”.

    • UNITY – John 17:21 – “that they may all be one”.

      • We live in a world of division: Divided homes, political division, racial division, economic division, etc.

      • A united church is a powerful witness to Christ.

      • Another goal of the Restoration Movement is to promote Christian unity.

      • Restoration Movement slogan: “In essentials, Unity; In non-essentials, Liberty; In all things, Love”.

    • EVANGELISM – John 17:21 – “that the world may believe that Thou didst send Me”.

      • UNITY and TRUTH create a tension

        • If our ultimate goal is UNITY, then we can be open to all beliefs or ideas in an effort to bring people together as a united group.

        • If our ultimate goal is TRUTH, then we can become so narrow and legalistic that we believe we are the only ones who are correct and we condemn to Hell all who disagree.

      • The idea that balances out the tension between UNITY and TRUTH is REACHING THE WORLD FOR CHRIST.

        • The primary goal of the Restoration Movement are not UNITY or TRUTH, but WINNING THE WORLD TO CHRIST.

        • This movement seeks to promote the TRUTH of God’s Word and to promote the UNITY of God’s people for the purpose of WINNING THE WORLD TO CHRIST.

        • UNITY and TRUTH are tools for EVANGELISM.

        • The Restoration Movement has the ultimate goal of REACHING THE WORLD FOR CHRIST.

  • Background Influences of the Restoration Movement’s Development.

    • Baconian Logic – The “Scientific Method” as espoused by Francis Bacon (1561-1626).

      • While many Christian movements have focused upon mysticism or personal feelings, the Restoration Movement has sought a logical exploration of Scripture.

      • From its beginning, the Restoration Movement has viewed the Bible as God’s divinely inspired revelation to humanity and the source for Christian conduct and practice.

    • American Primitivism – As the eighteenth-century American colonists sought to establish a new nation, they searched the ancient Greek and Roman models in an effort to form a perfect government.

      • This idea of getting back to the primitive models influenced religious thought in America.

      • Many “Christians Only” groups formed with the expressed idea of getting back to the New Testament model of Christianity.

      • The Restoration Movement was among these primitivist religious groups.

    • America’s Religious Pluralism.

      • The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution insured that America would have no “established” national church.

      • This provided for a “free market” of belief, and the Restoration Movement would develop within this context.

  • Additional Resources:

    • Allen, C. Leonard – Discovering Our Roots: The Ancestry of Churches of Christ

    • Hatch, Nathan O. – The Democratization of American Christianity

    • Hawley, Monroe E. – Is Christ Divided: A Study in Sectarianism

    • Leggett, Marshall – Introduction to the Restoration Ideal

    • McMillon, Lynn – Restoration Roots: The Scottish Origins of the American Restoration Movement

About NextLevel Online

The vision of Ozark Christian College is to glorify God by evangelizing the lost and edifying Christians worldwide. The mission of Ozark Christian College is to train men and women for Christian service as a degree-granting institution of biblical higher education.